Irmin Schmidt & Inner SpaceKama Sutra - Vollendung der Liebe O.S.T.
Released 1969 on Crippled Dick Hot Wax! Re
Reviewed by aether, 25/02/2010ce
Oh boy, isn’t this a turn up for the books. God bless those folks at…er…Crippled Dick Hot Wax! Records: the full soundtrack for Kobi Jaeger’s radical, docu-drama/educational film, Kama Sutra - Vollendung der Liebe (1969), composed by no other than Irmin Scmidt, and accompanied in the studio by the proto-Can ensemble, Inner Space (including Jaki Liebzeit, Malcolm Mooney and Michal Karoli).
Given the eastern-inspired, exotic nature of the film (and concept), its not surprising to find Irmin and Co. mining a more Tago Mago/Ege Bamyasi-like, ethno-trance-jazz-folk; rather than the Velvets-homage-approach of the more contemporaneous Monster Movie LP. Apparently, the soundtrack was completed before work began on Monster Movie) and this makes it all the more special to my mind, as the loose-limbed, “ethnodelic” minimalist krautrock/jazz of Tago et al. has always been more my cup of “vitamin C!!!” [That said, there is still an experimental radical, post-68’ vibe here, and a couple of tracks that do remind one more of the first Can LP and its blues hollering]. For the most part, though, this is an inspired trip into sun-blessed, trance-folk: all mantric voicing(s), eastern instrumentation and beautifully-ramshackle, hollowed-out, percussive rhythms that are pure Liebzeit-in-excelsis.
Indisches Panorama I - A softly picked set of arpeggios, similar in approach to certain tracks on Popol Vuh’s Nosferatu OST, envelopes us slowly, as a very alpine-like melody creeps in out of the acoustic mist. Its incredibly similar to some of the stuff Deuter would release 8 years later – sugary organ runs that, gradually, give way to a buzzing, distorted Karoli guitar, cutting through the acoustics like a knife through butter and layering the tune with a transcendent psychedelic topping.
“I’m Hiding my Nightingale” - a rather stern-sounding, Egyptian-like flute tune, winds down the aforementioned Alpine valley, introducing the next track, which features one Margaret Juvan on vocals - a crystal clear voice, bringing Broslemachine or Emtidi to mind, albeit with a slightly jazzier Julie Tippets-like edge. The vocal melody is quite affecting, a sort of German Jon & Beverly Martyn might be a closer comparison.
“There Was A Man” is the Michael Mooney-led blues-holler that could have come right off Monster Movie. For me, it seems a little isolated in terms of the aesthetic observed here; it would be interesting to see what part of the movie it accompanied.
“Im Tempel” begins next with an Alice Coltrane-like harp-like string instrument - luxurious glissando movements, whilst the psych-guitar returns to make brief statements, before a Buddhist like bell-toned guitar intones a weary melody. Its very peaceful and jazzy - again the Popol Vuh of Das Holihied Salmos or Einsjager und Siebenjager come to mind. A slow groove begins with woody bass also and boxy, brilliantly simple, drums as waves upon waves of the main melody roll over each other as the psych-guitar heralds us in the distance. Supremely meditative and very like another LP I’ve been listening to a lot recently - People: Ceremony - Buddha meet Rock - the track grows in slow intensity, the instruments becoming more and more assertive and this musical mantra takes shape. More harp glissando falls like rain in the background - its quite moving, and a real treat, given its from a very obscure educational, “New German Cinema” documentary.
“In Kalkutta III” - begins with a driving rhythm that is pure Tago Mago - typically Can, with a dancing jazz flute cavorting on top, to be replaced by that “Turkish-blues” psych guitar we all know and love. Jaki really lets rip on this track with some perfectly realised (Dear Prudence-type) clatter rolls, which show he was still, at that early stage, just as informed by free-jazz as his latter “monotonous” styling(s).
Indisches Panorama II - is a beautiful cinematic expanse of sound. A rolling repetitive guitar and bass tumble through myriad cycles as a wood flute is smoothed on top of this cyclic musical structure - joined by the distorted psych guitar again, which cries, moans and strains in anguish at times. The chiming guitar reminds me of Bad by U2 for some reason but don’t let that put you off.
“Im Kalkutta I” is a percussion ‘n’ acoustic guitar piece - hypnotic and distilled to its essences - here Liebzeit definitely is articulating his monotonous style of playing, whilst another guitar plays more Turkish type eastern-blues chords and a free-jazz flute sits atop. This si a slow Can-like take on the Morrocan vibe that would interest Page so much, refracted and expressed through a Middle European Alpine modality..Again, the little acoustic numbers on the Popol Vuh Lps seem to be the closest comparison here, even as the tune ends in distant harp/sitar strokes.
“Im Orient” has a deep rolling table’n’bass foundation that gives it that wonderful lilting affect, whilst a woody Holger-type bass pins it down more monotonously (making me feel he must have been involved somehow), and eerie drones and distant organs gather at the edge of this jewel-like musical tableaux.
“Indisches Panaroma III” is just pure Einsjager-era Popol Vuh guitar playing five years early, saccharine, but blissfully sublime, ultra-melodic, seagull (as Julian memorably called it) guitar underpinned by undulating guitar/organ chords, that issue forth like a gentle groundswell underneath.
“Indisches Panorama V” sounds remarkably contemporary, another lilting woody bass riff, that’s reminiscent of Tortoise (and other post-rock practitioners), a languorous stroll in the woods, whilst clear as crystal bell-toned guitar emotes over the top.
It would be interesting to know whether this soundtrack was available in any form at the time of the film’s release. I’d imagine the film was seen by many of the artists/musicians/radicals of the time, but there seems to be an almost fully-formed take on the latter ‘Alpine-spiritual’ electric-folk cadences of the 74-75 era Popol Vuh - there already in 1969!
I want go right through the rest of the tracks - suffice to say, if you admire your Popol Vuh, Deuter, Can, Emtidi, Ravi Shankar, or the Don Cherry “World Fusion” side of jazz, you should really appreciate this LP. Short little musical mantras that bring a little ray of sunshine into one‘s life! I can’t stop playing it. It’s available on double vinyl/CD. Quite beautiful!
QUERY: Anyone know if the Can music included on Wim Wenders Alice in der Stadt/Alice in the Cities (1974) is available - was it just material off the current LP's I can't remember - its ages since I've seen the film. Or am i getting this wrong? - they did have music included in that film i'm sure.